Filling Plot Holes.
When he goes to see her, Delirium looks at him with eyes wide open and almost scared, even as she twists strands of blonde-orange-blue hair between her fingers.
"I told him he shouldn't do it," his little sister says, trying make herself even smaller without quite actually doing it. "Really, Dream. I told him that, um, you'd get mad and, um. He laughed. I don't know.I don't like it when they laugh like that. He's one of mine but he laughed and then he did it again. Are you mad at me? I told him he shouldn't do it."
Everything would be easier, he supposes, if the answer was simply 'yes'.
"No, my sister. I am not angry with you."
That doesn't mean he doesn't have to deal with a huge mess, of course, but at least his answer makes Delirium smile for a few second and that's, ah.
Quite good, yes.
"It's the very first time something like this happens, sir," Lucien adds, hands on his hips as he frowns towards the empty space where a book should be. His librarian sighs before he pushes his glasses up his nose with one long finger. "I can't fathom how it escaped."
The Prince and the Raven, by Drosselmeyer. A most complex tragedy.
"I can," mutters Dream, feeling the starts of a headache he would be oh so very glad not to have to deal with.
He remembers Drosselmeyer's dreams, of course. Plenty of them remain in his library, but he did write many others, and he abused of Calliope's gift the way few other writers have done, even though Dream sometimes thinks that perhaps she only made that happen to irritate him in the fight they've been involved for centuries. But, that non-withstanding, it remains the fact that Drosselmeyer is a writer that can make his words come true.
Dream thinks that, perhaps, he should have dealt with this before, but so far most of Drosselmeyer's stories had been pretty much harmless. Well, there had been some deaths, yes, and several tragedies that had ended up belonging to Despair, but it had been nothing that had required directly the presence of the king of the Dreaming.
But that hadn't been enough for Drosselmeyer, and he had used his abilities to steal a nightmare, giving it a name and a voice so that it could exist in the Waking World, and now the Raven Monster that feeds upon the hearts of people truly exists. Dream had thought that when the people from Drosselmeyer's town cut his hands to stop him from trying to rule Destiny, it would have been enough to end it.
He hadn't guessed that Drosselmeyer had found, within his gift, the way to hide even from Death. His spirit had taken shelter within Delirium's realm, foregone from Death's touch. It had been, in a way, a mistake from the three of them, but it made sense, in a way. After all, Desire and Despair had taken part of this mess as well.
A huge headache indeed.
The prince's voice is soft and kind enough that Dream feels his headache diminish a notch. He doesn't quite smile, but he does look up towards where the white and golden figure of the prince awaits.
He is a fairytale prince, champion of the small and the weak, he who has touched a thousand and one stories, forever young, always beautiful, always noble. His Ideal can adapt to whatever it is that is needed of him, and that might be his very own tragedy: he belongs to everyone, but never to himself nor just one person.
"Prince. Is there something you require from me?"
"No, milord, on the contrary" The prince kneels with a gesture that would inspire a thousand poets to write about his humility, about the delicate strength of his body, the piety in which his eyes open, the sweet sorrow of his smile. "It's me who has come to offer help, if you would have it. I... thought I might be needed."
A dream of white light to fight against the terrible darkness of that nightmare. It's poetic, yes, and there is a balance Dream can't deny.
"This would be quite a different mission from all those you have conquered, o prince." Dream answers. "It goes beyond the Dreaming. You will be Written, and thus you will exist. Your destiny won't be within your hands but within your Creator's, the Writer. You will forget this realm, and everything you know from within it."
"I know, your majesty," ad his smile, moonlight shining between storm clouds, hope burnished with peace and courage. Dream knows that his realm will miss to have it within them. "Even so, I would like to help, rather than simply stay."
"Of course. It would go against everything you are. Then go, prince. And may Destiny be with you."
The prince bows low again before he stands. And yet, Dream knows it's not the end.
Drosselmeyer's story adapts itself seamlessly: the mad writer doesn't fully realize how and when the prince breaks into his story. Desire makes him egocentric, and Drosselmeyer fully believes that he alone is responsible of creating the prince who will fight against the Raven Monster. Dream will, however, give him this: it was Drosselmeyer alone who thought of giving the prince a knight who would die an useless death.
But the story isn't complete yet, and this bothers him as well as Drosselmeyer: there is room for improvement.
"It needs love, of course," Death huffs as she picks up more people that have died due to Drosselmeyer's machinations.
Dream frowns. "That belongs to Desire."
Death rolls her eyes at him. - That doesn't mean that it doesn't belong in the story. It's a fairytale, right? You know as well as I do - and better! - that in just about every fairytale there's supposed to be princes and princesses and happily ever after. Or princes and princes and princesses and princesses if you want to be modern about it, you won't hear me complain about it. The point is: it's missing that extra spice. Especially if you don't want it to end in tragedy.
Dream keeps frowning, thoughtful.
Slowly but surely, Drosselmeyer's story is rounding itself to its closure. It's all but set, and even though he's not Destiny, Dream can fathom how it'll go. He has to give Drosselmeyer this: he does know how to plan a tragedy. The poor knight, that child who has been touched by Calliope, dying as he tries to protect the dreaming prince. The betrayed princess who will proclaim her love to save the prince's heart, not knowing that the prince will give up his heart again to trap the Raven.
Dream supposes that the story will repeat itself over and over, and Drosselmeyer will laugh from where he's hidden, his master piece finished without it having to end. A story that won't ever and and that will happen again and again, knights dying, princess losing their honor, and the poor prince who will lose himself over and over, the pieces of his heart lost forever, thrown away as...
Then, sudden inspiration and Dream smiles, unsure of who he owes that idea but grateful nonetheless. He picks up his helmet and his bag, ready to give a last push to the story before he steps aside and lets it finish as it should
There is only one thing he knows about that can stop anything and everything from ending as a tragedy.
In a place with no time, with clocks that march forward and backwards, Drosselmeyer wakes up and he laughs and laughs and laughs, because he just had the greatest idea, the one thing he needs so that his story will be perfectly symmetrical. It will be a master piece from beginning to not-existing-end.
If he already has a girl that believes herself a raven princess...
Then there is more than enough room for the story to have a little silly duck, who will believe she's a princess as well.